1999 - In the first-year player's draft, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays selected North Carolina State University prep star Josh Hamilton as their top pick. It was the first time since 1993, when Alex Rodriguez was selected, that a high school player has been chosen first.What Josh Hamilton has gone thru is nothing short of staggering. From "best prospect ever" to coke addiction to leading the AL in nearly everything. Ponder this from Albert Chen's cover story on Hamilton from this past week's issue of SI.com:
When did he hit rock bottom? Hamilton thinks about this for a moment. So many low points to choose from. No, it wasn't the time the check he made out to a crack dealer bounced and he had to ask his father-in-law to go and give the dealer $2,000 cash. No, it wasn't the time after a party when he ripped the rearview mirror off a friend's truck, punched out the windshield and was thrown in jail. No, rock bottom, he says, was the night in the late summer of 2005 when he awoke from a crack binge in a trailer with a half-dozen strangers around him; with nowhere else to go, he appeared like a ghost at his grandmother's door -- his sunken face as white as snow, his 6' 4" frame shrunk from 230 pounds to 180. "He'd be at the lowest of lows," says [father-in-law] Chadwick, "and he'd sink lower."So where is Hamilton now? Let these numbers roll around your brain for a few moments (AL ONLY):
- RBI: 63 (next highest in the AL: 48)
- AVG: .328 (3rd place, behind .330, .329)
- HR: 15 (leads AL)
- Runs: 40 (4th place; 47 leads)
- Total Bases: 144 (2nd place has a mere 111!)
So not only is he well in the hunt for the Triple Crown, but he's blowing away the field in total bases and is close to Hack Wilson's RBI pace.
Not too bad for a recovering addict who was out of organized baseball for two full years. Let the following be posted in every lockerroom, in every school, stadium, fieldhouse:
"When I first got into drinking and using drugs," he says, "it was because of where I was hanging out, it was who I was hanging out with. You might not do it at first, but eventually, if you keep hanging around long enough, you're going to start doing what they're doing."
UPDATE: Just found this here (thanks to John Heyman's excellent "Daily Scoop"; check the "Around the Majors" section) and I am not sure what to make of it. At first, I was taken aback and insulted that he'd switch his agent, one who presumably stuck with him and helped him to get this far, right as he's about to hit the lottery for himself (and his agent!). The other side of me understands, no matter how much I dislike the rationale. (emphasis mine, as usual)
Josh Hamilton's negotiations for a long-term deal may be held up a little by his decision to switch agents during negotiations that appeared to be progressing. Hamilton, a born-again Christian after returning from bouts with his drug addiction, explained to friends that he wanted to be with a Christian stable, so he switched agents from Matt Sosnick to Michael Moye as he seemed to be closing in on a long contract.Now, I already read Jerry Crasnick's "License To Deal" (no, I do not make a penny for linking to Amazon, but it was a great read!), which was all about Matt Sosnick's attempts to develop a practice at the feet of the bigger, more ruthless agents like Scott Boras. So yes, I not only identified with Sosnick's "rooting for the little guy" approach but also due to his religion. To see him slighted because of his religion troubles me, particularly how I can imagine Sosnick working his tail off for Hamilton during the last few troubling years. Just ask Dontrelle Willis how hard Sosnick has worked for him throughout his career...
Your thoughts? Is it a shady/unfair move to dump your longtime agent as you're about to sign a big, long-term contract solely due to his religion? (I hope Sosnick got a partial share of the commission!)
Am I a hypocrite?
UPDATE 6/19/08: I spoke with Matt Sosnick today and he clarified an error that I passed along. Hamilton has only been his client since he joined the Reds, not before when he was a member of the (then Devil) Rays. This was part of a larger interview which will be published shortly. It does not change the tenor of my argument that it was a bogus excuse for dumping your client who had been working well for you. My apologies for passing along the error.
UPDATE 6/22/08: I just posted my full interview with Matt Sosnick. Click here to read.